Thursday, 28 July 2016

Yolkin's Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich

Yolkin Macaron Ice Cream London

When it comes to ice cream, it's fair to say that I've had them all: from designing my own Magnum at the Magnum pop-up store*, to sampling Ben & Jerry's core edition to enjoying Cornetto's free cinema experience. Obviously, for this year's obligatory ice cream post, I have something special for you so *drum roll* let me introduce you to a fabulous ice cream brand which I've recently discovered: Yolkin and their macaron ice cream sandwiches.

Yolkin Ice Cream Macarons At The Pop-Up Store In Soho

Yolkin has been popular for a while now and I've known of the brand since last summer. I saw the occasional blog post popping up here and there but somehow they slipped out off my mind. It has only been a couple of weekends back that I found myself checking out their delicious and highly instagrammable ice cream creations. 

Yolkin's idea is to not waste any food so anything that comes from the egg will be used somehow in the ice cream making process. The yolk goes into the homemade ice cream, whilst the egg whites become an essential ingredient for the macaron shells.

Every week, Yolkin produces four different flavours which are then sold at their pop-up store in Soho on the weekend from 12pm onward. The combinations are available to preview on Yolkin's FB page mid-week, which enhances the anticipation. On my weekend, the flavours celebrated the tennis season at Wimbledon, so ingredients such as strawberries, chocolate and strawberry sauce were found in the creations.

Arriving before midday came in handy, as the queue wasn't too long. I waited less than ten minutes to enjoy my Yolkin sandwich edition "99". The sandwich was filled with vanilla cream enriched with strawberry sauce and chocolate, surrounded by a super softshell. At first, I thought the ice cream was rather small, but then I wondered how to eat it as it certainly wouldn't fit into my mouth (which would have looked from an outsider's perspective greedy and messy!). Luckily, they provided plastic spoons so I scooped one bit at a time. 

Yolkin ice cream macarons
Yolkin ice cream sandwiches menu

Tried & Tested: Ice Cream Macaron From Yolkin

The ice cream had a nice texture and the flavouring was great. It was sweet, it was full of intense vanilla, which became a bit sweet after a while. I could barely taste the strawberry component, to be honest. The chocolate bits were subtle and a nice addition to tasting now and again, as they would only apply a hint of chocolate to the ice cream. 

The consistency was just perfect to me. I hate overly creamy ice cream, to me it needs to have that icy, flake-like consistency which is achieved if the ice cream can develop big ice crystals in the making process. So yeah, I was very happy with that  :)

Now, macarons....well apart from them looking pretty and instagrammable I don't think I'm a big fan of them. No doubt, the Yolkin shells were perfectly baked. Crackling from the outside but soft on the inside. A tiny bit too sweet for my likening, but macarons are usually super sweet so that's just me here being weird.

edition 99 Yolkin ice cream macaron

The product is incredibly well-made and at £4.50 comes at a fair price. If you're in Central on the weekend, a visit to Yolkin is definitely worth it. Their ice creams are never boring as you get to explore interesting flavour combinations with some being very unique. The store opens at 12pm and they usually sell out before 3pm, so you have to be quick and maybe accept a little waiting time.

currently in the Covent Garden Area
(check their FB for an updated address).

Thanks so much for reading, 

Till next time, 

*This year btw to be found in little side street South Molton off Oxford Street, near Bond Street station.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

My Octer Holiday Story

Octer fashion app review

Right guys, I've got two brilliant news which I'd like to share with you in today's post. Firstly, one epic moment in history has happened over the weekend: I've finally booked a holiday and in four weeks time, I'll be jetting off to Tenerife for an entire week full of sunshine, sunshine and even more sunshine. BYE, BYE WORK! 

It has been such a dread, I can tell you. For weeks now, the project "holidays" has been discussed in my household with no clear results until this weekend when I couldn't bear it anymore and in a short but (financially) painful decision just booked it. What do they say in Germany? An ending with horror is better than a never-ending horror or something like that?!? Well, I'm sure you get the picture and it is now done, settled, booked, paid and the wait for the moment to escape dreary London has come. 

If you follow me on Twitter, you know how much I've been longing for summer and time away from the office (I spent FAR too much time at work) and the dreading long commute - which you know is basically all that I'm doing. Work, commute, sleep, repeat - and that till Christmas. NON STOP. With so little time on my hands to catch up on my life, it came in very handy when Octer* reached out to me and asked me if I'd like to try out their new service - a fashion app, which are the second brilliant news I'd like to share with you. 

Finding My Summer Wardrobe With Octer

Octer basically is an online marketplace of the biggest UK stores, bringing together well-known and beloved brands such as Boohoo, ASOS or New Look. You can shop by department for fashion, beauty and tech gadgets and Octer will compare thousands of brands and products for you and then show the best matches based on your personal preferences. 

This way, you'll discover products, which you probably wouldn't have, plus it saves you tonnes of time as you don't have to crawl fashion retailers individually. Perfect for someone like me who barely has a minute to check out shops in person and this way I have the entire fashion collection from the British High Street right at my fingertips.  

I've browsed the Octer website for the past two weeks or so and the offer of products is enormous! It can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but the website is super well organised and structured. You have accurate filters which provide you with a clear overview of products. All you need to do then is to choose your desired item and that is hard because suddenly you'd like to have everything!

Once you decide on an item, you click on the picture and Octer will lead you directly to the retailers' website - easy and straightforward. Now, this is a function I wish Octer would do this internally, as you only discover the product on their website, but the actual purchase happens on the retailer's website. 

So you have to create an account with the retailer and then purchase the item as if you would normally do. I find this process a bit of a hassle as you have to sign up with each retailer individually and I feel it would be awesome to have one account with Octer and then purchase everything from there. Maybe they'll improve this function in the future as I think it'll be much more convenient from the consumer side.

With Octer I discovered a gorgeous neck holder plunge swimsuit and an off the shoulder top from Dorothy Perkins. I ordered the top straight away and with the swimsuit.....well....I waited too long and by the time I decided to go for it, it was ta-dah (!) sold out. Sob, sob! Sadly, the DP top turned out to be a complete flop as its sizing was far too wide/large (though I ordered a small size) and its colour was paler blue then crisp white. Well, as my blogging friend Nikki would say "a proper fashion expectation vs reality moment" has just happened.

But, as I've said, Octer has a wide corpus of fashion items, so it took me less than a week, to unearth another two incredible gems for my Tenerife holiday. The first one is a red checked shirt from Bershka which is currently in the sale for £10. I've been looking for an affordable and stylish checked shirt for a while now and this one is a gorgeous addition to my wardrobe. I'll team it up with black leather leggings, a white vest and some killer eyeliner for a rock-chic look - as you can see in my Red Checked Shirt Casual Look shot at Leeds Castle.

Bershka checked shirt discovered with Octer fashion app
Bershka Checked Shirt discovered with Octer
New Look Bandeau Bikini discovered with Octer
New Look Bandeau Bikini discovered with Octer

The second item I found through Octer is this bandeau bikini, a fantastic substitute for that plunge swimsuit I've missed out on. It is from New Look and absolutely comfy. I think this will not only be worn at the beach but maybe paired up with some shorts for a casual summer look. Ahhhhh, I can't wait for Tenerife and hope the next four weeks will be going super quick.

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time, 

*Post in collaboration with Octer.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

June Blogging Events In London

blogging events in london bloggersball

June has been quite an eventful month: I've watched Disney's Aladdin, a new musical that has just landed in the West End, celebrated Gemini season with tonnes of birthdays and saw Coldplay perform live at Wembley. Whilst the rest of the world went literally crazy and mad, and we're potentially facing an epic grand finale of politics, the blogosphere didn't sleep either. June saw some major industry events happening to bring together bloggers, brands and PRs for a networking galore.

Here are the latest news from the blogosphere...

Blogger Event 1: Scarlett's BloggersBall

Following the BloggersFestival from last September (covered in my Blogging Events - Are They Worth It? post), I was invited by Scarlett to join her and 200 fashion, beauty and lifestyle bloggers at the BloggersBall held in central London. The ball was first and foremost a networking event bringing together the industry and celebrate all things related to blogging. Upon arrival, Scarlett welcomed bloggers all individually and took her time to chat with everyone - something that always gives a nice and personal touch to her events.

The location, DSTRKT nightclub in Piccadilly, was a stunning place with all its blogging themed decoration though for an event with excited bloggers who were keen to learn about new brands probably not the best. The space had steps, tight balconies and angular shapes which made it a bit difficult to move around and awkward in some situations.

It was a bit chaotic and you got squeezed and stuck a lot, but in all the hustle and bustle I managed to bump into Jennie and Kirstie, two lovely ladies to whom I've been chatting to for nearly two years on Twitter and my dear friends Emma, Mel and Laura. It's always wonderful to see my blogging friends and catch up with them IRL - especially when you're at an event with so many brands to discover!

blogging events london bloggersball

As usual, there were various stalls and each brand introduced their products and services. Some gifted bloggers with goodies, others less so which is to some extent understandable as not all brands have fully recognised the potential and influence of blogging. 

It's still new territory to most brands, especially to start-ups who work on a tight budget. Something that really bugged me was a brand representative, who spoke in Child Talk to interested bloggers. I do understand that some products are based on scientific research and need to be explained easily, however, speaking in Child Talk is never acceptable for me. It's belittling and in the end, I stopped listening and moved on to another stall.

Though heavily beauty-focused, there were some familiar fashion faces such as JewelleryBox and Bonprix. A brand that stood particularly out to me was Seed & Bean, which showcased their delicious chocolates. The brand has been on the market for a while and is predominately sold in Waitrose. Their flavours are all-natural and there are some interesting combinations to discover such as Fennel & Dark Chocolate or Lemon & Poppy Seeds. My two samples were extremely addictive and I've recently restocked on their Sicilian Hazelnut & Almond chocolate.

seed and bean chocolates

Another brand I was happy to see was Toad Diaries, a stationery brand specialised in customised diaries and journals. Before the event, I was approached via email if I wanted to review one of their journals and I've created one which I'll show you soon on StyleLingua.

The event as such was as usual perfectly organised, planned and executed. Scarlett always hands out a brochure thanking the community and outlining the venue and stalls, which is always a nice and personal touch. It was a wonderful afternoon and I'd like to thank Scarlett for all of her hard work and massive contributions to our community/industry which would certainly not be the same without her!

Blogger Event 2: Bloggers Hangout Summer Party

The BHSP was celebrated over a couple of days with a variety of brands that came together at the Strand Gallery in Central. The location was accessible and easy to find, however, it wasn't the best. With events where over 100 people come together, I prefer open planned spaces such as last years' Bloggers Hangout Fashion Week event at the OXO Tower or Scarlett's BloggerFestival at the St. Conrad Hotel. The Strand Gallery was super tight and narrow and it felt very cramped and claustrophobic. Not for the faint-hearted! 

It was hot, it was tight, it was cramped - but it was also fun to connect with brands such as Regenerate (science-based enamel tooth care), Sass & Belle (cute gifts and stationery) and Pink Parcel (monthly period subscription box) which gifted bloggers generously and were fun to chat to.

Bloggers Hangout usually has a selection of well-known brands but also some quirky start-ups and niche brands, which make the events interesting. Also, for most bloggers, Blogger Hangout events are sort of the "introductory" events, so you'll meet lots of new faces and can discover new blogs.

Blogger Event 3: Paperchase's Back To School Campaign: The New Kits On The Block

The lovely PR team at Paperchase always pull together incredible events. I've been lucky to have been invited to their Tottenham Court Road Flagship store on a few occasions, having been reviewed their SS16 collection and taking up a Christmas tree decoration challenge and taking part in a fun stationery workshop for National Stationery Week in April. This time I got treated to a little sneak on their upcoming Back to School campaign, headlining with the snazzy pun "New Kits on the Block".

red bus stationery press day paperchase

The collection, which is officially out on the 10th July, targets mainly elementary school kids and features four fun and colourful ranges which I am sure, will also appeal to your inner child. 

California Dreaming - think colourful flower power
Purrmaids - when cats meet mermaids
Monsterosity - everything Dinosaur related
Wolf Gang - furry and fierceless!

Purrmaids Stationery
To top off, the event was held in a classic double-decker bus, provided by the London Transport Museum. The PR team had been touring around London all day bringing the new collection to various press, including The Star and Bauer Media and awaited bloggers outside the Flagship store. This was again a super exciting event and a memorable moment when the red bus turned the corner bursting with cute stationery and its very own old skool candy bar!

retro sweets and old skool candy bar

Paperchase has again nailed it and as always have been super generous to us bloggers. I can't thank them enough for their kindness and joy which they bring to their events.

Thanks so much for reading, 

Till next time, 

Friday, 1 July 2016

The House Of Minalima. Harry Potter Exhibition

The House of Minalima Greek Street London

Oh, London, you beautiful city that never sleeps or fails to impress with pop-up exhibitions, ice cream pleasure stores or other wonderful surprises. Discovering your gems and learning about your diversity fascinates me every day. 

My general interest and curiosity have brought me to see the Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin and mirror room exhibition, and lately, I experienced a FREE Harry Potter exhibition, just around the corner from where the Harry Potter musical is staged in Cambridge Circus.

Greek Street - the little, ordinary side street in Soho where celebrities and media moguls go in and out of Soho House, has the latest attraction. Once you turn into the narrow street just off the hustle and bustle of Shaftsbury Avenue you see it shining in the distance to your right. The bright pink coloured house with a joyful chaotic window display is The House of Minalima. It literally sparkles miles away and has been recently the place of pilgrimage for dedicated Potterheads and tourists.

MinaLima is the award-winning studio founded in 2009 by Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina. Both have ever since designed various publications and merchandise and are responsible for the artwork in the Harry Potter franchise. Now a collection of their graphic designs from the iconic films is on display. Fred & Georges novelty store, packet designs of sweets from the magical world, book covers, Quidditch posters, the tapestry of the Black family tree, Rita Skeeter's Dumbledor biography or The Marauders Map - all designed by MinaLima.

exhibits from the Harry Potter world at the house of minalima
Hogwarts letters at the Harry Potter exhibition London
chocolate frog card and packaging designed by MinaLima for the Harry Potter films
old textbooks from Hogwarts at the House of Minalima

The old house has a wonderful charm with its angular shape, narrow ceilings and uneven staircase. It boasts from floor to ceiling with artwork and graphic designs of the magic world that we've all have fallen in love with. The ground floor welcomes you with a gift shop, a staircase covered in Hogwarts letters leads you to the first floor where you'll find posters, wallpapers, The Marauders Map and some requisites from Fred & George's store. 

On the way to the top floor, the walls are plastered in articles of The Daily Prophet, one room is entirely dedicated to the magical newspaper. Though I always found The Daily Prophet too cluttered you are able to fully inspect every inch of the paper that has ever been produced and I must admit, it is very impressive how much effort and detail has gone into creating The Prophet.

staircase at the house of minalima plastered in The Daily prophet from the Harry Potter movies
The Daily Prophet close up and articles
The Daily Prophet on display at the Harry Potter exhibition

The artwork itself deviates a lot in quality for my taste. There is The Marauders Map or the Black family tree tapestry that have this magical element to it. The same style is for example found in Lockhardts book covers or the chocolate frog card and packaging. I think it is the mixture of calm colours and vintage gold that make these pieces stand out to me the most and create the magical enchantment that will always draw me into the world of Harry Potter.

On the other hand, there are these very loud, immature and abstract pieces which do not fit into the Harry Potter world for me. The designs are too clumsy and chunky. Some of the book designs are very childish and can't trigger that spark. Though it says "Quidditch" or "Harry Potter" on it, it just doesn't feel like it. 

The impact of mystery and enchantment are missing and to me, those pieces have not become part of the magical world and simply do not belong there. Albus Dumbledore's biography looks more like a cheap telephone book rather than a book from another world.

House of Minalima Quidditch posters and wallpapers
Dumledores biography the quibbler and other exhibits at the house of minalima
Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them at the house of minalima
school books from the Harry Potter films

However, as I've said the majority of the artwork displayed is very much in the magical "Harry Potter" style and I'm glad the filmmakers decided to stick with MinaLima over the entire production period, which gives the films unity. There have been so many exhibits that it was hard to decide, which ones to choose for today's post, but I hope you'll head over to Greek Street yourself to escape into this unique world. If you've fallen in love with a particular exhibit, you can purchase a copy from the ground floor shop to take home and there are tonnes of Harry Potter stationery.

Hogwarts letters at the harry potter exhibition the house of minalima

The House of Minalima is open daily from 12pm onwards.

Thanks so much for reading, 

Till next time, 
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